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Tips to Avoid Scams

Tips to Avoid Scams - The Beacon


By: Amanda

Tips to Avoid Scams


Every day, your BBB® provides information to consumers on how to avoid being scammed. On blog posts like this one, we’ll often post tips to help you avoid a specific type of scam we’re hearing about. Recently, we learned that the Federal Trade Commission have combined their common tips and tricks into a list of the “10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud.”  Here are a few of the tips we most often give out to callers that also appear on their list.

Spot imposters. Those perpetrating fraud often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government agency or official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request. Even if the request may be expected, consider review the request closely to ensure you are sending payment to the right location.

Don’t believe your caller ID. Scammers may be using a technique called “spoofing” which allows the scammer to have your caller ID say what they want it to say, i.e. a caller attempting to collect a debt as the IRS may have the caller ID say “IRS” and a phone number that appears to be from the Washington, D.C. area.  If someone calls asking for money or personal information, don’t provide it.  If you think their request might be genuine, call back to a number you know is reliable.

Don’t pay upfront for a promise. A caller might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job.  They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you provide the money, often times, the person will take the money and disappear.

Consider how you pay. Credit Cards contain fraud protections, but other payment methods don’t. Wiring money is like sending cash.  Once it is picked up on the other end of the transfer, it is typically gone.  This is also true for reloadable cards like gift cards, iTunes cards, MoneyPak, Reloadit or Vanilla. The FTC states “government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.”

Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. The FTC indicates that “by law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks.” So if the check you were given bounces later, you are responsible for repaying the bank.

These are the few common questions we receive here at the BBB, but the other tips are helpful as well.  You can read the full list from the FTC here.

If you feel you’ve been scammed, you can report it to the FTC and to your BBB.

For more information you can trust, visit

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Amanda is the Director of Bureau Affairs and is a regular contributor to the consumer education blog. She is one of our go-to colleagues for answering complex consumer inquires. Amanda also manages our charity reporting program.